On March 1, 2022, the Durango School District 9-R filed a lawsuit against Ascent Classical Academy, claiming the district is prohibited from accepting a charter school application before Aug. 1.
However, the 9-R district’s policy indicates applications must be submitted “on or before August 1.” Ascent Classical submitted its charter application Feb. 7, 2022, in accordance with the policy.
Prior to submission, Ascent Classical approached the 9-R district board to request an early submission, assuming the district policy was in line with state statute. The district board refused to take action on the request. It was later brought to Ascent Classical’s attention by a member of the 9-R school board that another charter application for Juniper Charter School had previously been accepted and reviewed in February 2015 due to the clear language – “on or before August 1” – in the district’s policy. As Ascent Classical explained to the district board, a timely submission and review of its application helps ensure a strong opening for the 2023-2024 school year.
“I’m disappointed the school board won’t give us a fair chance.The community deserves an immediate fair and unbiased review of the charter application, that was filed following 9-R’s own policy.” said Derec Shuler, executive director of Ascent Classical Academies. “Durango 9-R is asking a court to determine that its own policy is illegal to avoid doing its job as a charter authorizer and supporting the choices of parents.”
Ascent Classical’s rigorous academic programs have been recognized as high-quality by the Colorado Department of Education, and the parents of over 530 Durango children have said they would send their children to Ascent Classical Academy of Durango.
“I can’t believe the 9-R school board is spending tens of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit,” said Lyn O’Brien, a member of the school’s local steering committee. “We have been proactively working with Durango 9-R to help this school succeed. Our families have been engaged and speaking at school board meetings for months.”
Ascent Classical Academy of Durango submitted a Notice of Appeal to the Colorado State Board of Education requesting review of the 9-R district’s unwillingness to uphold its policy and the state requirements for reviewing charter applications promptly.
On March 9, the Colorado State Board of Education voted unanimously to direct the state’s Attorney General to intervene and assert the state board’s power over charter appeals.
“This vote recognizes the proper process is through the Colorado State Board of Education and not the courts as Durango has done.” said Shuler.
Families interested in learning more about Ascent Classical Academy of Durango are invited to visit durango.ascentclassical.org to learn more about this successful and proven model.